Purple Train

Roger J. Treglown

Roger J. Treglown

Yes, a purple train was the first thing I saw from the window of my ‘hotel’ when I rolled up the blind in Macclesfield this morning. My local guide and interpreter, Roger Treglown, suggests that I was hallucinating, but in fact it wasn’t the purple train so much as the window itself that was worrying me. It was the first thing I saw when I arrived here on Wednesday evening. It had been a long and tiring day, with Jane the satellite navigator pointing me unerringly in the direction of every traffic jam between London, Boston Spa and eventually Macclesfield. (I had to go to Boston Spa about the Book – being distributed from there next week, fingers crossed).



But, the window. A very loud sign on it announces, “Warning : For your safety this window is restricted”. What does this mean? What can it mean?  How do you restrict a window? Why? The view from it does not appear to be restricted in any way – if only it were, consisting as it does mainly of Macclesfield railway station, rusting gantries and a car park. Or perhaps this is just a painted backdrop – and the stunning beauty of the real Macclesfield is being withheld from me, in the interest of my safety. Am I being restricted, rather than the window? Am I only allowed to look out of it at certain times? Or for limited periods? Are there things I’m not allowed to look at? What does this mean?

Restricted View of Macclesfield

Restricted View of Macclesfield

A closer examination of the window revealed a curious assemblage of wires and locks. Has it been electrified? That would somehow be in keeping with the ethos of the ‘hotel’ – think Cold War, think Eastern European ‘hostel’. Spartan isn’t quite adequate as a description.  Completely bare room, save for what I at first took to be a wall-mounted radiator, but which I now think may be a piece of ‘art’.

Rattled by the window, more rattled by the radiator, I thought I’d make a cup of tea. But the plastic kettle turns out to be bigger than the sink (about the size of a teacup). To fill the kettle, I have to scoop handfuls of water with – well, my hand (slightly quicker than the teaspoon). Feasible, certainly, but awkward – for it now turns out that not only is the kettle bigger than sink, but I am just about bigger than the bathroom.



But let’s not dwell on all that – although there was that business of the mud on the stairs this morning. Stairs were clean and tidy when I came in last night after an excellent dinner with Roger. This morning they were covered in mud – not just one or two pairs of muddy boots, but hundreds. When, where and why? Because after two nights here, I still haven’t seen a single other ‘guest’. Just empty and endless corridors.

Macclesfield by Night

Macclesfield by Night


About Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

Laurence Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been six times an elected member of the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. He was largely responsible for drafting the Association’s Code of Good Practice introduced in 1997, served as Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2001 and as President from 2011 to 2013. He is a former member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society and continues to serve on the Council of the London Topographical Society. He writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades, and has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, London, Reading and Sheffield, as well as at the Bibliographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the Warburg Institute and at Gresham College. He teaches annually at the London Rare Books School and also organises the monthly Book Collecting Seminars at Senate House, University of London. Published work includes the compilation of fourteen ‘lives’ for the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, a number of articles for “The Oxford Companion to the Book” and the chapter on early English maps and atlases for the fourth volume of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain”. A major essay on the same subject also appeared in “The History of Cartography” published by the University of Chicago Press. His long-awaited “British Map Engravers, co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, was published to critical acclaim in 2011”. More recently, he contributed the numerous biographical notes to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012.
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3 Responses to Purple Train

  1. Anne says:

    You should use the cup to fill the kettle!

  2. Robert says:

    Actually, you shouldn’t marry any man who can’t fill a kettle. Run, now. run quickly…..

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